AlamoONLINE: First-gen student overcomes self-doubt and finds a new career path

June 22, 2021

It wasn’t until Jyreena Ward was in her thirties that she decided to commit to her college education. Like many people, she gave college a try right out of high school—but admits that she did not prioritize academics during that time in her life.

By the time Jyreena realized she was ready to return to school, she had a two-year-old son who was the reason she decided to try online learning at Northwest Vista College. As with many students who return to college after a long break, she struggled with anxiety and doubted her ability to succeed. She says, “There was a point where I questioned whether I even had the competency to make it through school, and I was scared. [...] I was full of fear. I was like, ‘Can I even do this? Can I even make it through this?’”

Low high school ACT scores and the need to take a few refresher courses were Jyreena’s primary concerns. But she felt committed this time around, saying, “[I decided] to take a leap of faith and just do it. I was like, ‘I don't like where I'm at now, and I need to get out of it,’ and so I did. I had to retake my math; I had to build myself back up. [...] From where I was standing, there was no going back. I knew that this risk that I was taking was a good risk. It was a positive risk.”

Jyreena shares that part of her success is due to her support systems. She is the first in her family to attend college, and her mother’s constant encouragement fuels her to remain on her path. “My mom has worked at the same job for her entire life. [...] She is ultra-proud of me. It is a major accomplishment.” 

Although her mother’s support has proven instrumental, Jyreen also attributes many resources offered by NVC to her student success. When asked about how the NVC resources have provided support during her first year of online learning, Jyreena says,

“Let me count the ways. The Advocacy Center, for one. Food services, the online tutoring, the writing lab, the math lab. [...] There are just so many different outlets of resources on campus and online that are there to help us and try to get us through different things. Not just with our classes, but health-wise and food-wise. [The college] is just trying to help all of the students. I’m extremely grateful.”

As she nears her graduation date, Jyreena grows more excited about her Network and Cloud Architecture career possibilities. While she has no qualms with her current waitressing job, she says, “It’s not a career. When you’re in your twenties, it seems like awesome money, but it’s not a career, and I wasted a lot of time thinking that it was. [...] You’ve got to think about your future. [Participating in] online learning is easy. You can get it done, and you can get it done quick. I knocked out four classes last summer through online learning. It’s just so much easier. When you look at how college used to be and how it is now, how it’s progressed, it’s only going to get easier for people, so I just feel like there are opportunities out there, and people don’t know that.”

While her primary goal is to find employment with a local cloud computing service, she shares, “Now that I’m kind of progressing and learning more about my career field, my future is kind of open. [...] I’m very optimistic about what my future could hold.”

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